B.C.'s home care workers fight difficult conditions to provide compassion and care

Home support gives seniors a chance to live independently in their homes for as long as possible, but the care workers who help them complete their daily activities are facing tough working conditions.

A report tabled by the Office of the B.C. Seniors Advocate in June 2019 found that over 75 per cent of care workers worked on a casual or part-time basis with many receiving close to minimum wage.

Combine those financial limitations with burnout, a retiring workforce, and a growing senior population, and it means the province is facing a potential staffing crisis, according to the B.C. Care Providers Association.

In a new radio series for On The Coast called New Nannies, Nikitha Martins, recipient of the Langara Read-Mercer Fellowship, explores the ways care workers are trying to provide the best care they can despite the challenges they face.

Series airs September 16 to 20

Monday, Sept. 16:

An overview of the kinds of barriers faced by home support care workers and their clients.

Tuesday, Sept. 17:

Jenny Kaastra, a care worker who's spent more than two decades of her life providing home support, invites us on a ride-along.

At times, Kaastra depends on her clients' company as much as they depend on her.

Less than a year ago, Kaastra lost her partner to leukemia. While she took some time off, she eventually had to go back to work to provide care for her clients.

Wednesday, Sept. 18:

We're invited into the homes of three seniors who live alone and depend on the care and company of care workers.

Some, however, have had a hard time finding a care worker they get along with.

Thursday, Sept. 19:

An anonymous care worker shares her experience with discrimination, violence and feeling silenced in the workplace.

To provide additional context, an expert explains why many care workers hide their stories of violence and explores the precautions home support institutions take to try to prevent these incidents from happening.

Friday Sept. 20:

Isobel Mackenzie, B.C.'s seniors advocate, talks about the future of home care in the province.

Tune in to On the Coast, weekdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. PT, to hear the series.

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